Cape Town - Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has poured cold water on talks that the Bulls head into the 2019 Super Rugby competition as the strongest of the South African contingent.
"Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world and it doesn't matter how many Springboks you have in your camp, reputations count for nothing," Pollard told Netwerk24.
Pollard's comments come after Lions coach Swys de Bruin earlier in the week heaped praise on the Bulls, who head into the tournament with a new head coach in Pote Human, as well as a new director of rugby in Alan Zondagh.
"Wow, the Bulls look particularly strong. It looks like things are happening there at Loftus and they'll be a totally different animal this season," De Bruin said.
The Bulls have bolstered their stocks with Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Brits and Cornal Hendricks, while other exciting new recruits include the Blitzboks trio of Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman and Stedman Gans and loose forwards Muller Uys from Western Province and Paul Schoeman from the Cheetahs.
In addition, former Sharks flyhalf-cum-fullback Garth April has also been linked with the Loftus Versfeld outfit.
Pollard added: "Of course it helps to have Duane and Schalk in our camp... (but) a team has to pitch up every weekend and be at its best."
The Bulls and Lions play a warm-up game this Saturday and will also be in action in the at the Cape Town Stadium on February 3.
The Lions will play the Sharks in the first game, before the Stormers play the Bulls in what will be the first public appearance of the new-look superhero jerseys, which will serve as the strips for the South African derbies in this year's Super Rugby competition.
The 2019 Super Rugby competition starts on the weekend of February 15/16.